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Posts Tagged: Publication Year: 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Dance with Me by Heidi CullinanDance with Me by Heidi Cullinan
Published by Self-Published on 26 July 2011
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, GLBT, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Goodreads
Setting: St Paul, Minnesota (2010)
three-stars
Also by this author: Love Lessons, Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay, Enjoy the Dance

First Line(s): Ed Maurer tapped his thumb on his steering wheel as he inched through Twin Cities traffic, sloughing off a rough afternoon as he headed to Halcyon Center.

I became a fan of Heidi Cullinan when I read her series Love Lessons, in that series we meet a character named Ed Maurer who is the hero of her book DANCE WITH ME. DANCE WITH ME is a book with a trope that I like, the ol’ hate to love scenario and Ed and Laurie do not get along when we first meet them. Part of the issues between Ed and Laurie is because they don’t talk to each other. Once they do things start to change between them and they grow closer.

DANCE WITH ME is far from perfect and there were a few times where I rolled my eyes and got frustrated with the characters. There were times when the forward progression of the story stalled and Ed and Laurie just seemed to keep circling the same issues…getting and giving the same responses with the same distraction as a way to change one scene to another. Then there was that one scene that had me cringing. I won’t go into full details here but it involved a hot tub and a man that, while not blood related (I don’t think), but who Laurie called Uncle. And just *shudders* it totally took me out of the story and I wish I could scrub it from my brain.

dance-with-me-quote

Overall though I did like DANCE WITH ME. It was a quick read with an interesting cast of characters and enough momentum to the plot to keep me reading until the end. I liked Ed when he was with Laurie and vice versa. They two were opposites sides of the same coin and they brought out the best within each other. They each needed qualities found in the other to bring out things within themselves that they didn’t know they had. I liked how they worked to build a relationship even if they did go in circles at times.

As with most Heidi Cullinan books, the ending was a little too cutsey and too neatly tied up with a bow but I get why she gives the endings she does. They allow each book to be a standalone even as her characters spill out into her other stories. I loved meeting this version of Ed and Laurie which are different than who they are when we meet them later in the Love Lessons series. I like how her characters make these cross overs as it fleshes out the world that Cullinan has created and makes it a little more real. Her stories aren’t perfect but they do make for a good afternoon distraction.

irishdarkblue

ir-dance-with-me

Add Beta Test by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-stars
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Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle MeadBloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines,
Published by Razorbill on 23 August 2011
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 421
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice

Place(s) Traveled To: Palm Springs, California

First Line(s): I couldn’t breathe.

BLOODLINES is the first book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy spinoff series and focuses on alchemist Sydney who we meet in those books. As the events in this book directly relate to how LAST SACRIFICE (my review) ends I strongly suggest that you read the Vampire Academy books before moving on to BLOODLINES. In the Vampire Academy books I wasn’t a huge fan of Syndney so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy a series that revolved around her and so was a little reluctant in picking these books up. But friends I know and trust say that this series is better than Vampire Academy so I thought why not take the plunge now that I’ve finally finished VA and this series is fully available in stores.

As a first book in a series, even a spinoff series, I found BLOODLINES to be really slow. It took a bit to find its groove even though there were many returning characters from the Vampire Academy books. There were also some new ones introduced and they were complete douche nozzles and I just wanted to set fire to those pages. Like for real, Sydney’s dad and the ‘golden boy’ Keith were terrible terrible characters who frustrated me so much that I almost DNF’d this book because of them. I don’t expect all characters to be likeable but my stars at least have some potential for redemption! But its really had to come back from being an asshole so I think we are stuck with them as they are. *le sigh*

Bloodlines Quote

There were many things in BLOODLINES that I found really predictable and so when the big reveals happened I was left underwhelmed. I also thought that the main plot lines/mysteries were very anticlimatic in how they were wrapped up and dealt with. So much time was spent on the tattoos that these normal teenagers were getting and then instead of a bang it was all resolved in a wee little poof. Not even a poof….more of a puh. And then the story dragged on longer than I expected it to with other big moments that really weren’t ending in what I think was supposed to be a mic drop moment but left me going…eh, why do I care?

The main bright light in this book was Adrian, I adored him as always and I kind of hate how he’s tied to Jill. That kind of squicks me out a bit since there is such an age and personality difference between them. I also really liked how Adrian and Sydney interacted with each other. She added some grounding that he needed and he made her character a lot less annoying that she’d been in previous books. I do also think it helped a bit that we got this story from her POV but she’s still not a favorite character of mine. Nor is BLOODLINES a favorite book that I’ve read. I was left underwhelmed and I don’t know when or even if I’ll continue with this series.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Bloodlines

Add Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill to Goodreads.

Add City of Bones by Cassandra Clare to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review: Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick RothfussThe Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2
Published by Daw Books on 01 March 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Adult, Assassins, Death & Dying, Demons, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Friendship, Magic, Mystery & Detective, Mythology, People & Places, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 1107
Format: Paperback
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Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Four Corners of Civilization –
Commonwealth: The University // Imre // Tarbean
Vintas: Levinshir // Severen
Ademre: Haert

First Line(s): Dawn was coming. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence in three parts.

Its always hard to review a book that is the second in a trilogy and its even harder when that trilogy is an epic fantasy as is the case with Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Wise Man’s Fear is a book that has been on my shelf since publication when I purchased a hardcover copy when Rothfuss came to town for a book signing. But then because of its size and the face that I hadn’t yet read The Name of the Wind it sat on my shelf until recently when I decided it was time to buckle down and read it. What I love about Rothfuss’s writing and The Kingkiller Chronicles is that even with the time between reading book 1 and this one it was so easy to slip back into this world.

Rothfuss’s writing is so vivid that I was easily able to recall the things that came before and the things that I was vague on he so kindly explained with cleverly placed flashbacks. Wise Man’s Fear was a long read for me as I only read a set number of pages per day but it gave me something to look forward to wondering where the story would go. Although I do have to admit to being a little disappointed in how events in this story took place and there wasn’t as much ground covered as I would have liked considering how there is only one more book to come. One of my big issues with Name of the Wind was there was so much time spent in Kvothe’s early years that it was slow and it bogged down the story. I liked when he finally went to University and things started to pick up.

Wise Man's Fear Quote

With Wise Man’s Fear the majority of the book was spent at the University and it just seemed like more of the same from Name of the Wind. While I enjoyed the book and fell in love with Rothfuss’s writing all over again I just wish that more had happened. Kvothe has been on this quest of his for so long and there just seems to be so much ground to cover in the final book. Also, none of the characters seemed to grow and change very much and as a result they keep making the same mistakes. There was also this whole long and drawn out section with the fae that I wish I had skipped as it didn’t seem to serve much purpose. I’m sure that Rothfuss will connect all the various dots in a big reveal but it was just frustrating at times at the lack of answers.

Despite all my frustrations, I did enjoy this book. The pages flew by when I read them and it was often hard to stop reading in order to focus on other things. I’m drawn to this world and I am looking forward to seeing how it all ends. Rothfuss is a master at his craft and I know that I just have to be patient as the wait will be worth it, or at least I hope that is the case. The Kingkiller chronicles are daunting reads but if you are a fan of epic fantasy then you certainly want to get to them at some point.

irishdarkblue

IR - Name of the Wind

Add The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss to Goodreads.

Add The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Black Prism by Brent Weeks to Goodreads.

four-stars
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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Audio Review: Bruiser by Neil Shusterman

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Bruiser by Neil ShustermanBruiser by Neal Shusterman
Narrator: Kate Rudd, Laura Hamilton, Luke Daniels, Nick Podehl
Published by Brilliance Audio on 03 May 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Length: 6 hours 55 minutes
Format: eBook
Source: Audible.com
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Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Violent Ends

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): If he touches her, I swear I’m going to rip out his guts with my bare hands and send them to his next of kin for lunch.

My choice to pick up Bruiser by Neal Shusterman was two-fold, first it was a Neal Shusterman book and I was curious to see what his writing style was like outside the world of Unwind. And second, the audio was narrated by Nick Pohdel, Kate Rudd and Luke Daniels – three narrators that I really enjoy. Its also narrated by Laura Hamilton but she was an unknown to me at the time and of the 4 narrators I liked her narration the least. Her part was that of Bruiser’s little brother, Cody, and that was a character that annoyed the ever loving crap out of me (think Carl on The Walking Dead) and Hamilton almost sounded like a cartoon as she read his POV scenes. But Pohdel, Rudd, and Daniels shined and I fell more in love with their narration styles than I had been before.

The story of Bruiser is a bit harder to talk about because to talk about it risks giving away the very thing that makes this book special. At its heart though Brusier is a story of misunderstandings, forgiveness, and friendship. Brewster, nicknamed Bruiser, by his classmates is a loaner and is always getting into trouble. He has a reputation of being a bad boy with a bad attitude and so everyone stays away. Then one day he and Bronte strike up a conversation and they talk. This happens a few times and Bronte sees something underneath the gruff, standoffish persona of Brewster and the two start to fall in love. This is something that Bronte’s twin brother, Tennyson, wants to try and stop and he does what he can to come between the two. Tennyson is a popular kid in school and everyone likes him. His reputation is to be the cool kid, the guy on top, the one that everyone wants to be friends with because he’s so charismatic and nice. Only as the story progresses you learn that the ones you think are nice aren’t so nice and the ones you think are bad aren’t so bad.

Bruiser Quote

Brusier is such a layered story and each chapter, each POV change just leads you deeper into its depths. Its a slow reveal but then also one that is not impossible to figure out. The foreshadowing parts I could have done without and then there were some things that the characters did that nearly broke my heart. But overall, this was a story that I enjoyed. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I was invested in how each of the characters storylines would play out. With the exception of Cody, because even though he was a child, I just didn’t like him. Its so hard to write believable children in books sometimes and this is one case that fails. Cody is whiny, selfish and entitled and by the end I really didn’t care what happened to him. I found his POV moments to be distracting and I just really wanted to return to Bronte, Tennyson or Brewster as I felt they were the only characters to go through any real growth. Who they were at the start was different than who they were at the end.

This book will tough your heart strings and tug on them and fill you up with emotion. So many emotions. Even with the foreshadowing and the impending sense of dread that unfolds as you read (or listen) to the story and yet you can’t stop listening because you are filled with a burning desire to know what happens. Shusterman, as usual, has a gift with world building and storytelling that just sucks the reader in and won’t let them go until the story is over. Even then you are left with residuals and wonderings of what ifs as you think about where the story might go if it went on just a little longer. Bruiser is a story built on its characters and its such a strong cast. Its a book that I knew little about before picking it up and I was glad of that as the story unfolded. This was one of my favorite audios of 2014 and its a story that I highly recommend. There is something in it for everyone.

irishdarkblue

Irish Recommends - Bruiser

four-stars
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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Audio Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review1 Comment

Audio Review: Where She Went by Gayle FormanWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
Narrator: Dan Bittner
Series: If I Stay, Book 2
Also in this series: If I Stay
Published by Penguin Audio on 05 April 2011
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Music & Musicians, Performing Arts, Young Adult
Length: 5 hours 21 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: If I Stay

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Brooklyn, New York // London, England

First Line(s): Every morning I wake up and I tell myself this: It’s just one day, one twenty-four-hour period to get yourself through.

Ok Internet,

I have a confession to make, are you ready? Ok….I didn’t really like the book If I Stay and so when its sequel, Where She Went was released I didn’t think that I would ever read it. It wasn’t until I saw the movie of If I Stay that I began to consider picking up Where She Went. I wasn’t sure I’d like the movie but I had screening passes so I went and I liked the visual form of the story so much better than the book. I became invested in Mia’s story and curious to know what happened to her when the movie ended. So I checked out a copy of Where She Went and gave it a try. As with some others I was a little surprised, but pleased, that the narrator  was Adam, Mia’s boyfriend from the first book.

Right from the start I thought that Where She Went was a pretty solid read. I was engrossed in the story and my heart really went out to Adam and all that he was going through. Yes, I felt for Mia as well but how things went, its just that Adam seemed so very broken and Mia was just cracked but still on the mend. I also liked the epigraphs featuring lyrics from Adam’s bands album at the start of each chapter. These just highlighted how much Adam had changed in the three years since If I Stay and just how far he had separated himself from all those that he loved.

Where She Went Quote

Where Where She Went lost me at the end….and spoiler alert if you haven’t read this one yet…so Adam and Mia are on a bridge and they are finally talking about the horrible thing Mia did in just cutting off Adam without a word. There is tension, lots of tension, and exclamations from me saying “Finally! Finally Adam is confronting Mia!” And then the tension just breaks and for with a sigh Adam is all you’re forgiven and I am fixed. That the last three years of guilt and torture and all that other crap he’s been putting himself and those around him through was just done. Then there was this rush to a happily ever after that just felt a bit unreal. It wasn’t solid and I just feel that eventually Adam and Mia will split again over resentments that they don’t realize still exist.

Overall I loved the narrator, Dan Bittner, and thought that he was perfect for Adam but he did a horrible job with the female voice. There is a small chance that my dislike with Mia also made me dislike Bittner’s narration of her lines but as I said, that’s just a small chance. This is a narrator that I would listen to again and when I do I’ll be able to better evaluate Bittner’s skill with doing female voices.

 

irishdarkblue

 

Irish Recommends - Where She Went
four-stars
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: Froi of the Exiles by Melina MarchettaFroi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles, Book 2
Also in this series: Finnikin of the Rock, Quintana of Charyn
Published by Candlewick on 13 March 2012
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 593
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: Finnikin of the Rock, Quintana of Charyn, Jellicoe Road

Place(s) Traveled to: The World of Skuldenore: Lumatere // Charyn

First Line: They called her Quintana the cursemaker.

I’m always wary when I go to pick up the second book of a trilogy because there is always the chance the second book isn’t as good as the first. That the second book really has no purpose but to get the characters from point A to B for the big climatic moment in the final book. And yet I just couldn’t wait to dive into Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta the moment that I had it in my hands because I loved beyond loved the first book in the series Finnikin of the Rock. To say that I loved Froi is an understatement because in some ways I think that I liked it even more than Finnikin.

Froi takes place a few years after the events of Finnikin ends and Marchetta does a wonderful job of explaining what happened in those years as well as give little refreshers of the first book without any long, boring info dumps. While Finnikin is told from a wide variety of characters as they move across Skuldenore the primary focus in this book is Froi and the time he spends on a mission in Charyn. There is still the revolving POVs but I liked how there was more of Froi’s POV and at times the other POV storylines just distracted me a bit. The transitions could be a little messy but the love that I felt for the overall story was enough that I didn’t let that bother me.

Froi has grown and changed a lot since we first met him in Finnikin and yet there is still this wild and feral side to him that just makes your heart ache for him. Then there are a whole slew of new characters that are all just as broken as he is and you just fall for each and every one of them. One of my new favorites was Quintana of Charyn. She is the mad princess and the center of a curse and your heart just breaks over and over as more and more of her history is revealed. But its not all heartache when it comes to Quintana because her story is also filled with hope and healing just as Froi’s is.

The story of this book was fast paced and action packed. There is a lot of intrique and drama as well as some laughter and even a few tears. In some ways I felt that there was a little more depth to the story in Froi than the one in Finnikin. Finnikin was all about the journey home for the people of Lumatere while Froi was more about healing and accepting oneself. There was a lot of dealing with the past as well as learning from past mistakes and learning to move forward. This novel left me breathless and I can’t believe how fast I made it through the near 600 pages. I am not positively DYING for the third and final book in the series Quintana of Charyn because unlike Finnikin of the Rock which is a self-contained story Froi of the Exiles ends with a bit of a cliff hanger. All the major characters are in a stage of flux and I am a bundle of nerves with curiosity wanting to know what will become of them all.

For me, the Lumatere Chronicles, is a must read series by everyone who loves a good epic fantasy novel. Yes, its flawed and I could be all nitpickey about them if I chose but the overall story of each book just makes it so easy to ignore all those little things that normally might annoy me in a book. The characters are all just so richly drawn and I love learning all their new layers with each book that they appear in. This is a series that I know that I will re-read often and each time I think I’ll find something new about the story to love. These are characters that stay with you and it really doesn’t get any better than that.

irishdarkblue
five-stars
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult4 Comments

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss, Book 2
Also in this series: Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After
Published by Dutton on 29 September 2011
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 338
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled to: San Francisco, California

First Line: I have three simple wishes.

From the moment that I finished Anna and the French Kiss I’ve been looking forward to reading the companion book Lola and the Boy Next Door.  The moment I received the book from a friend I started to read it and got lost in the new world that Stephanie Perkins created. I fell in love with Cricket….the uber sweet boy next door. Lola on the other hand as a bit of a hit or miss character for me. I wanted so much to love her as much as I did Anna but that never happened. I did love her quirkiness and sense of style. I loved her confidence in herself and how she didn’t care what others thought of her outfits. I also loved her dads. I loved how they were a very active part of her life.

I didn’t love how Lola seemed to use the people around her, especially Cricket. And I didn’t like how her story as a bit of  Anna and the French Kiss in reverse. I loved the cameos of Anna and Etienne in the book but I feel that Etienne was in the story a bit too much. I think I would have liked things more if it was Anna who had the bigger role rather than Etienne. Though I still enjoyed Anna and Etienne’s relationship. Even though at times Etienne seemed to be around Anna a bit too much. Though that is more of my need for some personal space rather than any sort of unrealistic aspect of two teens in love.

In the end while I liked this book I didn’t love it as much as I did with Anna there was just something missing in this story for me and I didn’t lose myself in it completely. It might have been that I was setting the bar a bit too high for this sophomore novel by Perkins, Anna is a tough book to compete against…even when the book is written by the same author. I still loved Perkin’s writing style and I really look forward to reading Isla and the Happily Ever After. I really hope to see more cameos of characters from her previous books make an appearance in that one. After reading Lola I have a strong suspicion on HOW that might happen but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s what actually happens.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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